Standing up to evolution in Russia
Darwinism has left a bloody legacy in Russia over the last century through the communist regimes of Lenin and Stalin. Though Russia, since the breakup of the USSR in 1991, has released itself from the atheistic dogma of Marxism, the pseudoscientific justification for Marxism, evolution, remains entrenched in the people’s thinking. However, Maria Shraiber, a high school student from St Petersberg, is sueing Russian education authorities over the compulsory teaching of evolution to the exclusion of other viewpoints in her science classes.1
Her father, Kirill Shraiber, who is prosecuting the case on behalf of his daughter, said that the point of the case was not to stop the teaching of evolution but to give schoolchildren the right to study other theories on the origin of life.2 The Russian Orthodox Church has also come out in support of the case with Rev. Artemy Skripkin, head of the youth department of the St. Petersburg patriarchate, attending the hearings to support the case.3
The court case revolves around the standard biology textbook used in Russian high schools, which has derogatory remarks about creation and theism. Maria Shraiber has claimed it offends her religion and prohibits her free choice of religion. One of the textbook’s authors, Sergei Mamontov, has defended the textbook and the curriculum. He said that religion has no place in the science classroom because ‘you can’t prove [religion] … you just have to believe in [it].’3 However, these statements contain two basic flaws, (1) you can’t ‘prove’ a scientific theory either, you can only falsify it, and (2) it implies that any religion is based on blind faith, which is not the case. Biblical faith involves evidence.4
More importantly, these statements serve to divide ‘science’ (read: evolution) and ‘religion’ (read: blind faith). However, this is a self-serving distinction made by evolutionists that even some evolutionists admit is false. The proper distinction to be made in science is between operational science and origins science. Both creation and evolution fall into origins (or historical) science but have different starting points, or axioms, from which they then interpret the evidence. However, the Bible provides the only coherent starting point for understanding the world.
The writers of the Nature letter push the same fallacious science/religion divide as Mamontov, but they don’t stop there. They seek to distance Darwinism from official Soviet ideology, yet say ‘we are aware of the strong tradition in evolutionary biology in Russia, where prominent scholars did important work throughout the twentieth century’. While the authors seem aware that the old Soviet ideology caused a lot of senseless suffering, they appear to view it as the lesser of two evils when compared to creationism:
‘Maybe we are now seeing the delayed effects of 70 years of enforced atheism and official support for darwinism in the Soviet Union, which kept creationism at bay until its collapse in 1991 [emphasis added].’
Militant anti-creationism makes for interesting bedfellows.
We are not aware of the religious background of the Shraibers, but they have made it very clear that they’re not seeking to suppress evolution but request that other origin theories get a hearing alongside evolution in the science classroom.
This is commendable, and we encourage this sort of thinking because comparing evolution and creation, when properly understood from the Bible, will expose evolution for what it truly is, false. Moreover, we have a biblical mandate to carry out such investigation: ‘Examine everything; hold to what is good’ (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Update: The St Petersburg court dismissed the Shraibers’ case on 21 February 2007. They intend to appeal.
References and notes
- Russian Schoolgirl Flees to Dominicana Over Compulsory Darwinism Course, http://mosnews.com/news/2007/01/30/baddarwin.shtml, 30 January 2007. Return to text.
- St. Petersburg girl quits school and country over Darwinism suit, 30 January 2007. Return to text.
- Niedowski, E., In Russia, a test of God vs. Darwin, Sun-Sentinel, 3 January 2007. Return to text.
- For a proper definition of faith, see Holding, J.P., Fallacious faith. Return to text.
- Levit, G.S., Hoßfeld, U. and Olsson, L., Creationists attack secular education in Russia, Nature 444(7117):265, 16 November 2006. Return to text.